10 questions every Comms Leader should ask about her Podcast Strategy

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.

1) Why Are We Doing This?

Before your business embarks on the adventure of producing a podcast, your reasons for doing so should be crystal clear. Knowing the answer to the question “why are we doing this?” will result in a focused and coherent piece of media.

Every B2B Podcast should move the business needle otherwise it’s going to fail. Once the enthusiasm and novelty of a podcast wears off, you’re left with the reality of justifying the time and money spent on a project. In B2B Podcasts, you need a clear business case:

In this article, I outline the 10 key questions a Comms Leader or Podcast Manager should ask about the project. These questions are relevant to new and existing projects, useful in both planning and optimizing B2B Podcasts. For more help on planning your podcast, get a copy of my Podcast Guide.

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

podcast planning guide

A key question to ask in your podcast strategy is Acquire or Influence? What is the purpose of the podcast – to acquire new leads or influence existing ones?

Podcast Strategy: Acquire or Influence?

Key to Communications Strategy success in planning a B2B Podcast Series is understanding whether your podcast goal is to Acquire or Influence your audience. Acquisition means creating new business development conversations. Influence means moving existing ones along the funnel. podcasts acquire influence

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There are many reasons a business might produce a podcast. Perhaps there are metrics you think you can improve. Or you may want to showcase your position as a brand authority or a thought leader, like the consultancy firm McKinsey has with their Future of Asia Podcast.

Additionally, you can use the podcast to promote events in the way that Apple Events does, educate your partners like Wyck Global’s Digital Marketing Daily, or display a company vision and culture that will attract like-minded staff like the We Are Netflix podcast.

Whatever your goal is, it needs to be defined and focused to produce something valuable.

2) Is This a B2C or a B2B Podcast?

Before you start, you need to understand the audience you are targeting. Will your podcast target mass-market consumers? Or will it be made for a business audience? Answering these questions will dictate many decisions you make about tone, content, monetization, and more.

Business podcasts have 2 different models: B2C and B2B Podcasts

2 Models of Business Podcast B2C & B2B

There are 2 common models for business podcasts – B2C Podcasts and B2B Podcasts. Each has its own unique take on style, delivery and metrics. b2c vs b2b podcasts

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Following on from Question (1) – Why are we doing this, the key difference in B2C and B2B Podcasts is your measure of success, the Podcast Metrics:

Again, the McKinsey Future of Asia Podcast is a useful example. It’s a B2B podcast that speaks to partners, clients, employees, potential employees, and governments. The tone, language, and content are geared towards an educated business audience, and it’s used to demonstrate the company’s position on issues and promote their Future of Asia research.

While the B2C podcast, We Are Netflix, strikes an entirely different tone that is suitable for fans and potential employees, content creators, and partners.

3) How Long Term Is Our Commitment?

Growing a podcast audience is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time to build up the content and goodwill to generate a buzz in a crowded market. Some of the top-rated podcasts took years to realize their potential fully, so if you go into this expecting overnight success, you should prepare yourself for disappointment.

Projects that consistently produce good content make the incremental audience gains needed to break the top 100. Take the example of the Harvard Business Review Ideacast. They’re consistently ranked at the top of Apple’s charts in the management section, but they’ve been producing quality content for almost 15 years with approaching 800 episodes.

Podcast success requires a long term commitment to consistency and building audiences. To win a Podcast Award, you need a combination of category rankings, high profile guests and quality content.

Example Award Winning B2B Podcast

McKinsey Asia won a Platinum Marcomms Award, the first ever awarded for a single podcast episode. The winning Episode featured an interview between Asia Chairman Oliver Tonby and the United Nations. More in depth analysis in Case Study: Award Winning Podcast. Podcast Soundbites below:

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4) How Should We Measure Success?

If you publish a B2C podcast, success will be measured through the type of audience figures that are attractive to advertisers. However, for a B2B podcast, the quality of the listener is most important. Remember, you are trying to position your brand as a trusted voice. For B2B, your Apple Podcast Store Rankings is the metric you should pay attention to.

A case in point can be found in this Top 10 podcasts in the Management Category list on Podminer.

Podminer: Business Podcast Rankings Tracker

podminer podcast rankings

The McKinsey Podcast ranks much higher than LinkedIn’s podcast despite getting fewer downloads. Like the music you love, often the best, most interesting songs are not the most downloaded.

Define: Podcast Metrics

Podcast Metrics – key measures of podcast success. While the most obvious metric is Audience, this is not the most important for B2B Podcasts. For B2B Podcasts, Category Ranking and Keyword SEO define thought leadership and, therefore, are more conducive to developing highly aligned, quality audiences.

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Depending on your choice of answer to question (2) ie. B2C vs B2B Podcasts, your measure of success will be significantly different. B2C Podcasts are measured by their ability to create real estate for an external advertiser. In B2B Podcast, you are the advertiser – so your metric of success is engagement and thought leadership.

5) What Is the Category We Want To Lead?

Higher rankings mean higher visibility. But many categories are highly competitive. The smart move is to find a subcategory relevant to your brand and commit to it. This could be entrepreneurship or investing, or so on.

Define: Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership – in the Communications space, thought leadership derives from leading the conversations of your category. By defining the narrative and the framework through which ecosystem partners view problems, you establish your brand and your leadership as authorities within that space. In Podcast terms, you can employ Podcast Metrics like Store Rankings to track thought leadership.

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For example, the US Business category is extremely competitive. NPR has two entries, and someone as popular as Tim Ferriss only breaks the top 10! This shows the wisdom of finding a category and dominating it — in Ferriss’ case, it’s entrepreneurship, where he is ranked number one.

6) Which Keywords Do We Want To Rank For?

Getting discovered on Apple or Spotify is no different from Google rankings. You need to be aware of good SEO practices, and for that, you’ll need to concentrate on your keywords. Producing great, engaging content and making sure that you use the keywords relevant to your business in your titles and descriptions will give you the best chance of being discovered by relevant listeners.

Have a look at Tim Ferriss episode #495 with David Rubenstein. The title is stuffed densely with keywords.

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

podcast planning guide

7) What Content-Base Will We Leverage?

What valuable content does your organization have already? It could be whitepapers, reports, or newsletters. In B2B, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can make these pieces of thought leadership part of your podcast discussions. Or you can even use your podcast to drive downloads and engagement with this piece of content.

For example, McKinsey’s Future of Asia uses their Future of Asia report series within their podcast. It features guests who are authors of these reports and authoritative voices on the broader business conversations on the Asian Century.

8) Who Will Our Anchor Hosts Be?

To build an audience, you need consistent voices in your podcast. Audiences need to know what they are getting and return to anchors whose style and personality appeal to them. Ideally, you should have one anchor host who represents the voice of your company.

The Chairman of McKinsey’s Asian offices, Oliver Tonby, is the anchor host for their Future of Asia podcast. He is a trusted, credible and expert personality with a deep understanding of the subject matter. If it’s not possible to have a full-time anchor, using rotating hosts or co-hosts will do. For example, the HBR Ideacast uses both Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch.

A host should want to be involve, rather than see the podcast as more “work”. If the host is horse-trading time, the podcast will fail. If however, the host sees the podcast as an effective business development and communications tool, they’ll multiply their time accordingly. For guidance on helping your host, see how to ask better podcast questions.

9) What Will the Podcast Cadence Be?

Cadence refers to the frequency that you publish episodes per month. You need to find a cadence and stick to it to develop an audience. The top-ranking podcasts, We Study MIllionaires, publishes twice weekly.

Likewise, NPR’s, How I Built This comes out twice a week. This sort of consistency is crucial in finding and maintaining an audience.

At our Podcast Agency, we call this key metric Takt:

Define: Podcast Takt

Takt – from the German “beat” or “rhythm”. Takt was adopted by Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing philosophy as the “rhythm of the factory”. In “Just in Time” manufacturing, if customers ordered 1 car a day, the factor was organized around a cadence of producing 1 a day. Similarly, Takt is a measure of the cadence of podcast publishing. According to our Pikkal Analytics data, higher ranking podcasts have higher Takt. They also have lower Takt Deviance scores, meaning their podcasts are more consistent than lowe ranking podcasts.

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10) What Will Happen if We Don’t Do This?

And lastly, how important is this project to your business? Podcasts can significantly benefit a business, but they require lots of work and commitment. So if your reasons for doing it are that it would be “nice to have” rather than being part of your communication strategy, then you need to refer back to question 1, why are we doing this?

Looking for Podcast Case Study Examples?

10 business podcast case studies

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

podcast planning guide

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.
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